Dear IRR News subscriber,
The unique contribution of IRR Director Emeritus A. Sivanandan, who died on 3 January, to anti-racist and progressive causes in the UK and around the world has not just been noted in eighty-four comments on IRR’s website but also been discussed in a number of appreciations that have appeared in print or online editions of numerous journals including The Guardian, Red Pepper, The Sociological Review, Theory, Culture and Society, Ceasefire, Operation Black Vote, The Hindu, Times of India, Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka, Ekklesia, Runnymede Trust, barfi Culture and MHP Books, And his legacy was discussed by IRR Director Liz Fekete in interviews with BBC Asian Network and Novara Media in the UK and by Elizabeth Robinson and Avery Gordon on KCSB FM in the USA.
In recent years, Sivanandan was very concerned about how new forms of state and institutional racism were interacting with Islamophobia. Last week, Darren Osborne was sentenced to life for the murder of Makram Ali and the attempted murder of other worshippers outside the Finsbury Park mosque. While Osborne may have been influenced by far-right groups, Islamophobia has also been made acceptable by mainstream politicians, public figures and the media, who rarely portray Muslim men as anything other than sexual predators, religious extremists and/ or terrorists. Osborne was apparently influenced by a BBC drama on the Rochdale grooming scandal. And on the very same day that he was convicted, Ofsted’s chief inspector Amanda Spielman was giving a (heavily trailed) speech at a Church of England schools conference in which she warned against schools ‘being perverted’ on faith grounds. She came out in support of a primary school headteacher whose attempt to ban the hijab had been overturned by governers and called on school leaders to use ‘muscular liberalism’ to defend decisions, rather than fear causing offence. It is hard to understand why a senior public servant should choose to make such an inopportune speech – or why the government appointed Sara Khan (distrusted by so many Muslim groups for her stance on Prevent) to head its new Commission for Countering Extremism.
State and institutional racism also inform pan-European developments in the extension of ‘hostile environment’ policies towards migrants and those aiding them, examined this week by Frances Webber who charts some recent disturbing developments. We also have our regular calendar of racism and resistance, a fortnightly resource for anti-racist and social justice campaigns.
And just to remind you you still have a a few more weeks to take advantage of a Sage Publications promotion which allows you to access all 2017 Race & Class articles, view further details here. (This offer has been extended to the end of February.)
IRR News Team